Dickens Redressed

The Art of Bleak House and Hard Times

Alexander Welsh

View Inside Price: $57.00


July 11, 2000
248 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300082036
Cloth

With Bleak House and Hard Times, Charles Dickens inaugurated a series of novels now known as “later Dickens”—works with a darker mood and more strident satire than his earlier fiction. Though these two novels continue to be immensely popular, they are only partly understood, Alexander Welsh contends. In this sequel to his critically acclaimed From Copyright to Copperfield, Welsh closely examines the two novels Dickens wrote after David Copperfield and reassesses the importance of this crucial stage of Dickens’s career.

In spite of the famous double narrative of Bleak House, says Welsh, the various actions and roles of the characters answer the needs of the protagonist much as they do in David Copperfield. Dickens redresses himself as the female narrator Esther Summerson and at the same time redirects his artistic energy in forms less explicitly personal. When he wrote Hard Times—which can be considered an epilogue to the much longer Bleak House—Dickens was able to conceive a plot neither centered around a hero nor fueled by the kind of wish fulfillment that structure had implied. Welsh’s engaging discussion and original insights into two of Dickens’s most successful novels will enhance the enthusiast’s pleasure in reading these works and inspire longtime students of the novelist to think about Dickens’s extraordinary accomplishments in new ways.

Alexander Welsh is Emily Sanford Professor of English at Yale University.

 It immediately becomes apparent that we are being addressed by a master reader whose confident judgments we can trust because he has thought long and deeply about Dickens as a textual whole.” —U. C. Knoepflmacher, Princeton University



“Perhaps the most comprehensive and perceptive examination of Bleak House to date, this work is an important addition to the literature for all students of Dickens, upper-division undergraduate and above.”—Choice

“[Welsh’s] results blend into profitable and highly accessible interpretations inspired by expert scholarship—a model for all students of Dickens.”—Barbara Korte, Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik